Business Library & Business Reference Web Pages


RUSA BRASS Discussion Group
ALA Midwinter Conference - Philadelphia
Sunday, January 13, 2008 10:30 - 12:00
Westin Hotel, Georgian Room
53 Attendees

Program:  Open Discussion of Business Reference & Resources

BRASS Discussion Group Notes

Louise Feldmann welcomed everyone to the discussion and thanked InfoUSA for providing the refreshments.  Attendees were reminded that InfoUSA was exhibiting at Booth 437.  Louise noted that we would have an open discussion with no formal topic.  To start the discussion, however, Louise asked attendees about the decision-making process they use when choosing between print and electronic purchases and the balance they have between these two formats.  A lively discussion ensued.  Some of the major points:

Georgetown:  Gale has indicated that only 3% of the titles they sell are in electronic-only format and of the titles they sell in e-only format, most use is of just 2% of those titles.  This indicates that librarians need to better promote e-resources.

D.C. Public Library:  How do you introduce e-resources to people who are not familiar with them?

Princeton:  With e-products, it’s for current data. Archival information is extremely important to researchers and programs at Princeton.  Hence, he needs to continue print purchases, since there are still so many uncertainties with archiving of e-resources.

Ryder:  While they are moving to more electronic resources, they aren’t doing much with e-books yet and want to maintain some print for novice users. E-books are good if users know what they are looking for; otherwise, print can be faster and valuable.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill:  Students demand electronic.  Distance students go to other countries and need electronic.  Professors want e-journals. They strive for 100% electronic for journals and may revise their collection development policy as a research library to reflect the user demand for electronic materials.  

University of Florida:  Reference Universe from Paratext is very helpful as an electronic index and pointer to print and electronic reference works.  Indexes over 15,000 reference works and historical collections.  Provides good coverage for business as well, including Gale and Sage. University of Florida began their subscription in Fall 2007. 

Princeton:  Expressed some concern over InfoUSA’s archival services.  Rather than providing a cumulative web version, InfoUSA sells archival CDs, which have operability and compatibility issues.  Concern with Gale’s Ward’s Directory was also expressed.  Gale’s decision to provide only five years of data may have cost them some sales. Academic libraries need archives, whereas, public libraries usually just need current information.

Washington State University:  Sometimes the price differential between print and electronic (4-5 times as high) dictates choice.  Archival rights for e-journals is a big issue now.  Many schools did not negotiate archival rights when they first signed licenses and are having a hard time renegotiating now.   One example was dropping e-journals and starting them again, whereupon, a new start date is given.

University of Michigan:  The practical effect may be that schools will be less likely to cancel current subscriptions, due to the concern that they will lose archival access if they do so.

Georgia Tech:  At the Gale breakfast, their representatives asked if there was interest in the provision of 40 years worth of archival data.  Let Gale know if you want archival data.

Georgetown:  The need for more user-centered space in libraries is also driving the decision to go e-only with serials.  Some use remote storage for journals.

California State-San Marcos:  Need to see added value in electronic products.

Princeton, Rutgers & others:  It was some librarians understanding that Standard & Poor’s may be discontinuing their print Industry Surveys as early as summer 2008.   Several attendees indicated that when the print of this title, other S&P titles, and Mergent titles go e-only, they do not plan to switch to the electronic format.  Rather, they will just “let it go away.” (Note: an S&P Representative said afterwards at their booth that they are not planning to eliminate Industry Surveys in print and librarians should contact them for further discussion).

Enoch Free Public Library:  They get requests for old business manuals.  It’s clear there is a broad need to have these.

University of Virginia Darden School:  Lots of finance classes require the use of Moody’s bond and stock records for current and historical data, so it is important to keep these.  S&P has bond quotes, too.  Other options are more expensive.

Emory: Electronic is the way to go. They are moving towards “one book in, one book out” for space reasons.  They are going to compact shelving. Students want electronic. Cataloging, binding and storing are expensive, too.  BRASS, RUSA and ALA should press for electronic availability of more materials, with archives.

UNC-CH:  Along with this, we need to pressure publishers to cut the price differential between print and electronic.

American University: Are consortium members working on formal arrangements for archiving print runs?  Could get rid of fiche because someone else in consortium has them.

Claremont Colleges:  Reiterated that students are demanding e-journals and data and aren’t very interested in books.

Chicago Public Library:  Would not be interested in switching to online versions of Mergent’s Manuals if they discontinue print.  Business Plans Handbook is an example of a print source that has been very useful to have the electronic version of.  It gets used by branch library patrons as well as patrons of the main library.  Listing databases like the Gale Virtual Reference Library by product name in the library catalog is not very helpful.  Fiche is hardly used at all.

University of Florida:  Noted problems with the quality of the scanned pages in the Moody’s Digitized Manuals and that Mergent said it would rescan the pages.

East Carolina University:  Noted that a number of pages have already been rescanned.  While Gale has made persistent URLs available for content in the Gale Virtual Reference Library so that libraries can link to specific titles from the library catalog and other web pages, Gale marketed the new Gale Directory Library without this functionality.  It is expected to be added by summer 2008.  We need to pressure vendors to provide title-level access to directories and similar titles that move from print to online formats.

A number of libraries subscribe to the Vault Online Career Library and/or make online career guides available through ebrary.  Most libraries are very happy with the quality and functionality of the Vault  guides.  Company reports are strong on investment, finance, banking and consulting, otherwise not as much depth is given for other industries. One library mentioned sharing the cost for these guides with the Career Center.

University of Michigan:  Concerned about ILL restrictions governing e-books.  Noted a huge increase in the use of Plunkett Research titles when they went online.

The Claremont Colleges:  It would be nice if BRASS could produce a comparison of what various databases offer.  Noted that faculty sometimes are devoted to a favorite database and resist giving it up even though the library may offer another database that provides the same content, plus additional material.

American University:  Stacy prepared a one-page double-sided cheat sheet for her colleagues that tells them what sources to use for company history, stock prices, etc.  If the database is not on the list, they don’t have it.

Brigham Young University:  Every library must look at its own needs. The added value of distributed access and the concern over space lead him to always go with the electronic version unless the print offers something unique.  Since they don’t have Ph.D. programs in business, they don’t have the same need for deep archives.  Faculty are as amenable to e-only monographs as students, but they still buy popular titles like Freakonomics in paper.  One concern is Gale’s decision not to improve Business & Company Resource Center, but on the contrary, to repackage parts of it in other products.

Georgetown:  Even though faculty and students in the business program don’t check out business books, students in a number of other disciplines do use these titles.  Stressed need for advertising and to publicize the functionality of resources, not just their names.  Most information is still found because someone Googled it, so keep this in mind when developing resource guides.

University of Michigan:  Encouraged business librarians to serve on product development advisory groups and influence the development of electronic resources.

A member of the Business Reference Sources Committee noted that part of that committee’s charge is to communicate concerns and unmet needs to vendors.  The committee needs to collect comments and feedback in a systematic way.  She encouraged attendees to post comments on the form on the BRASS web site, including ideas from this meeting.  

University of Virginia Darden School:  Suggested using a wiki to share this type of information and encouraged people to include positive feedback about what they like about a product.

Michigan State University:  We may want a big flagship database but Gale wants smaller databases they can market to libraries. Laura Leavitt recently reviewed the Gale Small Business Resource Center.  The review will appear in the Journal of Business and Finance Librarianship. 

Free Library of Philadelphia:  Librarian here will be building a wiki for BRASS as part of the Emerging Leaders initiative.

University of Buffalo:  Concerned that the investment analyst reports in Business & Company Resource Center (BCRC) are not of as high quality as they used to be.  Investext reports are no longer included in BCRC.  LexisNexis only has the most recent investment reports.  Are there other alternatives?

The Claremont Colleges:  Was able to cancel BCRC and subscribe to Investext for about half the amount.

University of Chicago:  Concerned that many banks have pulled content from Investext.  Are people cancelling Investext as a result?

UCLA:  The competitors have problems, too.  Reuters Research on Demand is losing contributors.  First Call won’t deal with academic institutions.  LexisNexis Academic only has the two most recent reports on any company.  Dialog was suggested as an alternative.  Capital IQ has imposed large price increases for campus-wide access. 

University of Michigan:  Capital IQ doesn’t want undergraduates to use the product.  They want to include student data in their People Search.  No proxy option is offered.   

Opinions varied widely on the ease of working with Capital IQ.  They usually want to turn off access in summer. Some content may not be available for academic accounts such as investment reports but, as far as known, there is no embargo.



  • Announcements were made concerning the BRASS Publishers’ Forum, the BRASS 20-year anniversary party on Monday night of the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, and the availability of BRASS bookmarks and stickers.  Persons wishing to volunteer for BRASS committees should send their volunteer forms to Rita Moss at UNC-Chapel Hill.  There will be a Business 101 preconference on Friday, June 27, at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. 
  • Amia Baker (Auburn University), Chair of the Membership Committee, announced that the Anaheim new member reception will be on Friday evening with Morningstar as sponsor.  The Membership Committee is starting a mentoring program and wants potential mentors and mentees to contact her. 
  • Ryan Womack announced he needs reviewers for the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship. There will be a special issue on Core Business Web with chapters on best web resources.  If interested in working on the project, let him know.
  • Open positions were announced.
  • BRASS had two projects accepted by the Emerging Leaders program: the wiki (discussed above) and a best practices/model for setting up a business center in a library.
  • Mary Martin announced that the Business Reference in Academic Libraries Committee is planning a forum on outreach for the Anaheim Conference and is looking for speakers on successful and unsuccessful experience in outreach (reaching out to users).

Disclaimer: This publication has been placed on the web for the convenience of BRASS members. Information and links will not be updated. Posted 28 March 2006.